Module Records Blog has a nice report on options for hardware speech synthesis (this is following on from the singing robots post). For $150 you can buy a complete TextSpeak module, which takes the output from a PS2 keyboard and turns it into speech. $1,995 (!) gets a VoiceNote mPower QT, which does the same sort of thing, but presumably much better. But the cool option is Speakjet - a one-chip speech synth. Just $55 gets you the Speakjet development kit (including the chip). It's a circuit board with switches and LEDs and a battery and a speaker output, plus various analog and digital ins and outs. Stanley from Module Records has one and says: "The chip sounds very good with delicious robotic feeling. I plan to make a computer controlled musical speech synthesizer with it, so stay tuned..." He won't be the first: Here [mp3] is a demo of a SpeakJet chip being controlled by a modular synth (using a PSIM module).